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Old 09-06-2019, 05:58 PM   #61
jmark
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Next up on our Orkney tour was Skara Brae. Skara Brae is another ancient settlement which is located on an old Scottish estate located next to the ocean.

The estate:






The other side of the pond:





Since we were running into time constraints, we didnít get to tour the estate (our guides mentioned that we should spend the time at Skara Brae with the time we had). Interestingly Skara Brae has a Disney tie in as it was mentioned during a lecture by Indiana Jones in one of the movies. One thing that was interesting about Skara Brae is that prior to seeing the site you could walk enter a replica pre-historic home which approximated what prehistoric life would be like. It kind of reminded me of a house for a hobbit:





Surprisingly, the model room was bigger then it looked from the outside and could hold almost a dozen or so people. The kids were able to play with a few of the props:



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Old 09-06-2019, 06:00 PM   #62
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After going through the model room, we were able to look over the site. Its amazing that we were looking over a pre-historic settlement that housed numerous families.







Neolithic sleeping arrangements suuuuucked. I can only imagine what it would be like living in cramped quarters with kids:








We're doing a home remodel. My attempts to go "Skara Brae simple" have not gone over well with BH.








An entrance to a home. I kept imaging someone whispering "Clarice":



Again, it kind of blows my mind that one day, someone was digging in their backyard and found out they were living on a pre-historic village. It was also a good comparison to see a completely excavated site after seeing the Ness of Brodgar. However, since we had a timed entrance at our next stop we had to leave a little bit early.

Up next- Maeshowe and a late afternoon Scottish lunch.
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Old 09-07-2019, 07:53 AM   #63
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That looks like such an interesting place to visit. And I appreciated the Spinal Tap reference at the Standing Stones

Keep it coming!
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Old 09-07-2019, 08:00 AM   #64
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INCREDIBLE! Orkney looks like such an interesting place. Had only heard of the islands, never known anything at all about them, and the history.
What a wonderful adventure. thanks for sharing the story and all the great pictures
I got the Zeppelin and Synchronicity references. Ha. love all of those too
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:02 AM   #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melk View Post
That looks like such an interesting place to visit. And I appreciated the Spinal Tap reference at the Standing Stones

Keep it coming!
Thanks! It hit me while seeing the picture of the boy try to push down the Standing Stones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jedimom3 View Post
INCREDIBLE! Orkney looks like such an interesting place. Had only heard of the islands, never known anything at all about them, and the history.
What a wonderful adventure. thanks for sharing the story and all the great pictures
I got the Zeppelin and Synchronicity references. Ha. love all of those too
It truly was a fascinating place and was very different from the rest of our trip. I always wonder if I'm going too much into the history of things but without the context it looks like a "bunch of rocks" as my kids would say. Thanks again for reading along and catching the references. Only a couple more posts about Orkney before Iceland.
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Old 09-09-2019, 02:29 PM   #66
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Maeshowe- Scottish Food Challenge

Continuing our Neolithic tour of Orkney Island we headed to Maeshowe. Maeshowe is a Neolithic cairn (tomb) that you can actually enter. Disney (and most cruises) do not offer tours of Maeshowe since they only allow guided tours of approximately two dozen people each hour. Apparently, pre-purchasing of tickets a month or two before hand is a must due to the small size of the tours and ticket availability. I'm glad we did it and it was well worth the effort.

As it was already past lunch time (and we did not have lunch yet), our guides were nice enough to bring some biscuits and snacks for the kids and some Highland Park 10-year whiskey for the adults. When we were going over where we wanted to go with our guides, we had asked if it was feasible for the adults to visit a whiskey distillery. However, the Highland Park distillery was not open the day we were in port but Mary and David were super nice bringing some of their own whiskey for us to try. Really, I canít say enough good things about Mary and David. So in the parking lot of the Maeshowe visitor center we had a Scottish tailgate.

Scotchy Scotch Scotch. I like Scotch (BH not so much).



I just started developing a taste for scotch and enjoyed the Highland Park. If anyone has a Scotch recommendation, I'm all ears. After our brief tailgate, we still had a few minutes to kill in the gift store before the tour started. DD found something she liked.



We had to board a bus to the site which was down the street from the visitors center. Maeshowe is located in a field close to the Standing Stones and Ring of Brodgar. From afar it just looks like a giant hill. Underneath is the tomb.





As it was in an open field, my spring allergies were kicking in full force.








The entrance is narrow and you actually have to duck/crawl for about twenty feet to get through the opening which appeared to be four feet tall in height. Anyone having accessibility issues, or problems bending may have an issue getting in.



It certainly felt like a tomb as it definitely had a creepy vibe.



Once you get past the opening you get to the tomb where it is easy enough to stand. Since it is lit only by the guides flashlight, no pictures are allowed in Maeshowe so unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your views of this trip report) there are no pictures inside. I was glad we had the guide since the guide really gave context to what we were looking at. While most think Maeshowe is a tomb, there are many unanswered questions about it. Apparently, it was built so that on the winter solstice the sun lines up with the entrance and the sun lights up the entire chamber. The guide was also able to talk about how well it was built and how in the 11th century some Vikings broke into the tomb and drew some graffiti (including a dragon) in the tomb. The guide was able to point out the graffiti with her light. After about forty minutes in the tomb it was time to head back.

As we were all starving, our next stop was lunch at the Orkney Brewery.



Since it was Scotland, I enjoyed another round of Scotch while BH had a beer flight.



While the menu was mostly burgers and salads, I was intent on ordering something unique to Scotland. Looking at the menu it was clear what had to be done to the disgust and horror of everyone else (because thatís what dads do). I told the kids that they should be try some foods they may not normally find at Chilis or BWWs so why not start off in the deep end with Haggis Nachos:




The kids were iffy and my explanation of what haggis is didn't exactly help matters. Eventually everyone tried some and while I donít think anyone said it was their favorite thing to eat, people did go for seconds and thirds. The Haggis itself had a gamey taste and was pungent. The best I could say was it tasted like meat spiced with seasonings and vinegar. I think the consensus was that while plain Haggis would not be something Iíd want to order, its proof positive that nachos can and will make anything taste better. That said, It wouldnít be the most disgusting thing we ate on this trip- not by a long shot.

The boy passing the Scotland fear factor food challenge:



DD did too but she would not permit any photographic proof of such. After eating some burgers and salads, we left the brewery. Unfortunately, our time in Scotland was coming to a close. However, we had one last stop before heading back to the ship- the Cliffs of Yesnaby.

Last edited by jmark; 09-09-2019 at 02:41 PM. Reason: edit to words
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:32 PM   #67
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Cliffs of Yesnaby/ Back on the Magic

As we only had two hours before the all aboard time, we only had time for one more quick stop- the Cliffs of Yesnaby. The cliffs are on the west coast where the Atlantic meets the islands, and were a bit of a drive from where we had lunch. As we were blessed with fantastic weather for our time in Orkney, we were able to get some nice pictures:






I was a bit paranoid of the kids as there were no railings and if you made a wrong step--- well that would be very bad. The Boy knowing his limitations didnít get too far to the edge. BH was the most adventurous.



Itís a long way down.



I told the kids that if they fall, weíll meet you at home. Just have to swim a few thousand miles and hook a right and youíll be at Robert Moses Field 5. Just make sure you donít go to the beach right in front of the lighthouse. There are things that canít be unseen.



The cliffs were beautiful and a nice diversion but unfortunately it was time to leave Orkney and our wonderful guides Mary and Mark. They were so nice and generous and really gave us a great understanding about the islands. Off to the Magic:



We headed back on about 45 minutes from the all aboard time. As we went on, the local bagpipe band and some Scottish dancers came out to give a send off. We sat on our veranda for a while to take it in.



They were out there still playing and dancing as we were leaving the port. Everyone in Orkney was so nice and really made us feel like they were glad to have the Magic in port. As we left we took one last look at the Kirkwall skyline with the cathedral looming above:




One of the things that I really like about a cruise like this, is that after a day of sightseeing, its nice not having to worry about dinner or logistics and you can just relax. We didnít have much time before dinner but they had a Celtic band the Revelers playing in the lobby that was fantastic. We caught them a couple of times during the cruise and they were always worth a listen. After the day in Orkney, they certainly made the mood.




Our kids now being older and having been to Disney almost a dozen times were not dying to see many of the characters. That said, Scottish Goofy is the best Goofy:



We were in Rapunzelís Royal Table and they had the Thug menu and show. Rapunzel came around to meet the kids who indulged Rapunzel.



DD wanted nothing to do with the Thugs:


Our servers were great as always and the food was the typical cruise food we are used to. With 11 days of cruise food, I was a bit worried Iíd get sick if it. But after Haggis Nachos, no one was complaining. The evening show was a performance by an Icelandic violinist. We decided to skip it and fell back into our routine of some evening trivia and then relax in keys to enjoy the piano players while the kids did their activities. The in-laws really liked the violin show and in hind sight we probably shouldíve gone.

But after a long day in Orkney, we decided to take it easy as we headed towards Iceland and the Midnight Sun. The seas were still calm as they had been for most of the trip so far (but that was about to change). As would be the norm for most of the trip, the sun was still out as we headed to bed:



Scotland exceed our expectations and stood out as a really unique place. That said, Iceland was probably the country we were all excited to visit and it did not disappoint. But we had one more sea day before Iceland.

Up next: Our second sea day
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Old 09-11-2019, 03:11 PM   #68
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Wow, so beautiful!
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:12 PM   #69
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I have been following your trip report and it is awesome!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!!
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Old 09-12-2019, 01:23 PM   #70
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Following along. Great report!
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